Playboy’s Judgment Against Counterfeiters Now Over $18 Million
June 23rd, 2017
A Cook County, Illinois court today issued an order granting the post-trial motions of Browne George Ross LLP client Playboy seeking enhanced damages and an award of attorney’s fees and costs against counterfeiters Play Beverages, LLC and CirTran Beverage Company, LLC. With the order, Playboy’s judgment now exceeds $18 million.
The ruling is the latest in a five-year legal battle actually first initiated by Play Beverages and CirTran against Playboy. Years ago, Play Beverages had obtained from Playboy a license to use the world famous Playboy trademarks on an energy drink. In the lawsuit, Play Beverages and CirTran alleged that Playboy had unlawfully terminated the license and wrongfully interfered with their distribution of the energy drinks. The companies sought damages of $29 million. Playboy counterclaimed, asserting that the termination was proper and seeking damages against Play Beverages and CirTran for trademark infringement, counterfeiting, and breach of contract.
The case proceeded to a three-week jury trial in Chicago, with BGR partner Pete Ross serving as Playboy’s lead trial counsel. The jury sided entirely with Playboy, finding it had done nothing wrong, and the license had been properly terminated. The jury also found that Play Beverages had breached the license agreement and both Play Beverages and CirTran had willfully infringed upon and counterfeited Playboy’s trademarks. The jury awarded Playboy $7 million in damages.
In today’s order, the trial court denied the post-trial motions of Play Beverages and CirTran and granted Playboy’s post-trial motions. The court enhanced Playboy’s trademark damages to $15 million. The court also awarded Playboy the entirety of its attorney’s fees and costs, finding the $2.1 million request reasonable under the circumstances. Including the jury’s damage award on the contract claim, Playboy’s judgment now totals over $18.8 million.